McGoldrick A. James A. (Jan Coffey, a joint pseudonym, May McGoldrick, a joint pseudonym)
MCGOLDRICK, James A.
(Jan Coffey, a joint pseudonym, May
McGoldrick, a joint pseudonym)
PERSONAL: Married; wife's name, Nikoo (a mechanical engineer); children: two sons. Education: Ph.D. in sixteenth-century British literature.
CAREER: Writer. Has worked as a professor of English literature.
MEMBER: Romance Writers of America.
(With wife, Nikoo McGoldrick) Marriage of Minds: Collaborative Fiction Writing, Heinemann (New York, NY), 2000.
WITH WIFE, NIKOO MCGOLDRICK, UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM MAY MCGOLDRICK
The Thistle and the Rose, Penguin USA (New York, NY), 1995.
Angel of Skye, Penguin USA (New York, NY), 1996.
Heart of Gold (originally published as Cloth of Gold), Penguin USA (New York, NY), 1996.
The Beauty of the Mist, Penguin USA (New York, NY), 1997.
The Intended, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 1998.
Flame (originally published as The Jeweled Cup), Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 1998.
The Dreamer (book one of "Highland Treasure" trilogy), Onyx (New York, NY), 2000.
The Enchantress (book two of "Highland Treasure" trilogy), Onyx (New York, NY), 2000.
The Firebrand (book three of "Highland Treasure" trilogy), Onyx (New York, NY), 2000.
The Promise, Signet (New York, NY), 2001.
The Rebel, Signet (New York, NY), 2002.
Tess and the Highlander, HarperCollins Young Adult (New York, NY), 2002.
Borrowed Dreams (book one in "Scottish" trilogy; originally published as Lord of Scandal), Signet (New York, NY), 2003.
Captured Dreams (book two in "Scottish" trilogy), Signet (New York, NY), 2003.
Dreams of Destiny (book three in "Scottish" trilogy), Signet (New York, NY), 2004.
WITH WIFE, NIKOO MCGOLDRICK; UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM JAN COFFEY
Trust Me Once, Mira Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Twice Burned, Mira Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Triple Threat, Mira Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Fourth Victim, Mira Books Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Five in a Row, Mira Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Tropical Kiss, HarperCollins Young Adult (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Husband and wife writing team James A. and Nikoo McGoldrick have written numerous novels under their joint pseudonyms May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey. Each had their own careers before they began to write together: James was a professor of English literature and Nikoo was a mechanical engineer. However, they also loved writing. Nikoo had started to write stories when she was twelve years old in an attempt to cope with the death of her best friend in a car accident. Unfortunately, her parents were not supportive, and so she turned her attention to math and science, attending engineering school to secure a solid career path. James began writing stories as a child of seven, using his friends as an audience for his action-packed creations. After college, he came close to selling a screenplay to actor/director Robert Redford, but when that failed he turned to the more reliable career of academics.
Neither McGoldrick gave up writing entirely, and they spent more than a decade attempting to get their individual work accepted by a publisher. Not until they joined forces and began writing in tandem, though, did they finally succeed. When their younger son underwent heart surgery, the event forced the couple to reassess their priorities and the direction of their lives. They started out writing a short story together, and when that placed in a national contest, they turned their eyes toward full-length fiction. A love of history made historical romances a natural choice. Within five days of submitting their first effort, they had an agent, and three months later a multi-book contract with a major New York publisher. May McGoldrick, their first joint pseudonym, was the result of an editor's suggestion that they write under a feminine name; May was James's grandmother. They created their second pseudonym, Jan Coffey, to use with more-suspenseful novels.
In an interview for RomanceReview.com, James and Nikoo described the benefits of working as a team. "The biggest pleasure that we've found in the actual act of writing is the feeling of complementing each other. While we don't really have specialty areas, Nikoo could be characterized as the screenwriter type (she loves writing dialogue), and Jim is more the poetic type. He loves imagery and language, descriptive passages." Of course, teamwork has its drawbacks as well, as they noted. "Having two heads doesn't necessarily mean that you have twice the brain … or you could write twice as fast. Feeding times are difficult … bathroom times are hell." The McGoldricks further explained their interest in historicals in an interview on their own Web site, stating that "history in general offers the writer so many opportunities to create stories. We know (or learn) the names and the events, but the human dimension is not generally recorded. This means that there are huge gaps left in the records, just dying for storytellers to flesh out."
The McGoldricks write both stand-alone novels and series. As May McGoldrick, they are responsible for both the "Highland Treasure" trilogy, consisting of The Dreamer, The Enchantress, and The Firebrand, and the "Scottish" trilogy, made up of Borrowed Dreams, Captured Dreams, and Dreams of Destiny. The "Highland Treasure" books follow the adventures of the three Percy sisters as they attempt to unite the clues they possess in order to locate their family's treasure, while at the same time falling for three very different Highland warriors. AllReaders.com critic Marilyn Malone called the first volume "an enjoyable read," while a contributor to Publishers Weekly stated that The Enchantress "is tender and the narrative is enhanced by strong secondary characters."
The "Scottish" trilogy allowed the McGoldricks to delve more deeply into Scotland's history and culture, focusing on strong female characters struggling to survive in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Harriet Klausner, in a review of Borrowed Dreams for AllReaders.com, remarked that "this engaging Georgian romance works on several layers besides the obvious romance"; regarding Dreams of Destiny, Klausner commented that Georgian enthusiasts "will take immense delight." The reviewer added that "the story line is action-packed, but at its best when the lead couple banter and try to trump one another." Booklist critic Shelley Mosley called the last installment of the "Scottish" series, Dreams of Destiny, "an entertaining book filled with murder, suspense, and humor, and a satisfying conclusion," noting that the book can also be read on its own.
Scotland is not the only setting for the McGoldricks' historical novels. In The Promise heroine Rebecca Neville flees England when she believes that she has killed her employer. She boards a ship bound for America, and when the woman assisting her dies during the voyage, Rebecca raises the woman's child as if he were her own. Ten years later, when the boy's father discovers his whereabouts, Rebecca is forced to return to England. John Charles remarked in Booklist that the authors' "gift for characterization extends from the … courageous heroine and wounded hero … to a fascinating cast of secondary characters." The Rebel serves as a sequel of sorts, with the hero's best friend moving into the role of a protagonist when he finds himself apprehending an Irish rebel who turns out to be a woman. Charles called this volume a "vivid, compelling historical."
The McGoldricks have won numerous awards for their novels from various chapters of the Romance Writers Association and Romantic Times. In addition to their fiction, they have written a nonfiction work on how their writing partnership works: Marriage of Minds: Collaborative Fiction Writing.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1998, Pat Engelmann, review of Flame, p. 210; August, 2001, John Charles, review of The Promise, p. 2100; July, 2002, John Charles, review of The Rebel, p. 830; June 1, 2004, Shelley Mosley, review of Dreams of Destiny, p. 1711.
Library Journal, July, 2000, Robert Moore, review of Marriage of Minds: Collaborative Fiction Writing, p. 110.
New York Times, February 8, 1998, Diane Nottle, "And They All Lived Happily Ever After," review of Heart of Gold, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, July 31, 2000, review of The Enchantress, p. 77; June 10, 2002, review of The Rebel, p. 46.
All about Romance Web site, http://www.likesbooks.com/ (February 23, 2005), "May McGoldrick."
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (February 23, 2005), Marilyn Malone, review of The Dreamer; Rebecca Herman, reviews of Flame, Tess and the Highlander, and The Firebrand; Harriet Klausner, reviews of Dreams of Destiny, Borrowed Dreams, Twice Burned, Triple Threat, Fourth Victim, The Rebel, and The Promise.
Fantastic Fiction Web site, http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (February 23, 2005), "May McGoldrick."
HarperChildrens Web site, http://www.harperchildrens.com/ (February 23, 2005), "May McGoldrick."
May McGoldrick Home Page, http://www.maymcgoldrick.com (February 23, 2005).
MyUnicorn.com, http://www.myunicorn.com/ (February 23, 2005), "May McGoldrick."
New American Library Web site, http://nalauthors.com/ (February 23, 2005), "May McGoldrick."
RomanceReview.com, http://www.aromancereview.com/ (February 23, 2005), interview with McGoldrick.